The Armenian government has cancelled a CSTO military exercise planned in Armenia and refused to appoint a deputy secretary-general of the Russian-led military alliance over what it sees as a lack of support in the conflict with Azerbaijan. Citing the same reason, it has also rejected other CSTO member states’ offer to deploy a monitoring mission to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
The unprecedented tensions have called into question Armenia’s continued membership in the organization. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian claimed on March 16 that it is the CSTO that could “leave Armenia.” A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman laughed off that remark, saying that she has trouble understanding its meaning.
“We expect that harmful discussions on the topic of ‘who leaves what’ will end and that all issues of interaction with Yerevan within the CSTO framework, including the deployment of the organization’s monitoring mission in Armenia, will be solved in a constructive and mutually beneficial manner,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin told RTVI, a Russian-language broadcaster.
“For our part, we reaffirm our readiness to implement plans to deploy a CSTO mission on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in the interests of ensuring Armenia’s security as well as other assistance measures,” said Galuzin.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also reaffirmed that offer when he met with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan in Moscow on March 20. Lavrov decried “undisguised attempts by Western countries to estrange Armenia from Russia.”
Tensions between Moscow and Yerevan have deepened further since then. Last Friday, Armenia’s Constitutional Court gave the green light for parliamentary ratification of the International Criminal Court’s founding treaty. The ruling came one week after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over war crimes allegedly committed by Russia in Ukraine.
Moscow warned on Monday that Yerevan’s recognition of The Hague tribunal’s jurisdiction would have “extremely negative” consequences for Russian-Armenian relations. The Armenian government has still not publicly reacted to the stern warning.